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Monday, January 20, 2014

Prices up, quality of life down

Ronnie Liu | January 20, 2014

It looks like a bad start to a new 2014 with price hikes all around.

What is troubling your mind in this new year? I’ll tell you what’s on top of my mind. Price hikes!

An optimist by nature, I am usually upbeat as I am a staunch believer in the notion – ‘ the New Year brings new hopes’.

However, I am now upset (instead of upbeat) thanks to the various price hikes, new fees and high taxes.

Not only those imposed by the federal government but also those to be implemented by the Selangor state and local government.

Sugar is no longer sweet to me. My electricity bill is sending shock waves through my nerves.

The petrol price has increased my temper flare ups and the pending toll hike is going to be a daily curse.

Everything I love to eat and drink has gone up in price and will continue to spiral higher, that will certainly kill my appetite.

All prices are going up and up – sky high. My quality of life is going down and down – ‘In the well’.

What really drives me crazy is this.

Even the Selangor state government (which I was part of at one time) has now joined the crazy game of fee increases and at quantums unheard of, in years.

The license fee for practically every business in Selangor has gone up.

The new rates being illogically based on floor area and category, certain businesses are now facing a shocking 300 percent or even 500 percent increase!

No businessman would be able to absorb such extra high fees and they will certainly add the license fee increase to the cost of doing business.

All these price hikes would inevitably burn my pocket and yours too.

The pending GST targeted to take effect on April 1, 2015 is certainly not funny.

All the crazy price hikes are going to spark high inflation and the consequences will not be easy to stomach by you and me.

Even our economy growth will be affected badly by the negative sentiments of consumers and will eventually haunt all businesses, creating a vicious cycle.

Burdening the rakyat

The federal government must stop its cronies (who are already making tons of money through various monopolies) from imposing unreasonable price hikes.

The Selangor state government with a surplus of some RM3 billion after five years of good governance and prudent management does not need to raise taxes and fees to further burden the rakyat.

Most Selangor town halls are already sound and financially healthy with a steady flow of income and revenue from taxpayers.

MBPJ for instance, had a surplus of RM300 million at the end of the year.

The state government can well afford to help out the few “poor cousins” such as MDKS, MDHS and MDSB.

If the governments really need to increase prices and taxes, let it be no more than 10 percent.

Because our salaries usually do not increase by a quantum of 300 percent, unlike recent salary hikes for the Sarawak and Selangor state cabinet members.

Even former PM Dr Mahathir has opined that the government should cut costs instead of increasing prices and taxes, making life difficult for the rakyat.

No wonder some of our ordinary folks and youngsters took to the streets of our capital city and Malacca on New Year’s eve to mark their protest, instead of celebrating the coming of 2014 with songs and dancing.

Would it be awkward if I wish you a “Happy” New Year?

Ronnie Liu is former elected rep for Pandamaran and former state exco in charge of local government. His FMT column is called Nutshell.

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